It’s not quite home, but for Venezuelan infielder Yuruby Alicart, playing in the Scotiabank Canadian Open fastpitch tournament at Softball City is the most comfortable stop of the season.
“I like it a lot,” said Alicart, after playing second base in an 8-0 loss by the Venezuelan national team to the United States Sunday afternoon at Softball City. “I see teammates I went to school with, teammates from Vancouver. It’s good to see them here, and it’s good to come back every year.”
Alicart’s first trip to Surrey was as a 14 year-old 11 years ago. She stayed for five months, training at the West Coast Softball Academy in Surrey and playing exhibition games in the Surrey Storm, Delta Heat and White Rock Renegades programs.
At the time, she was already a national team member, although playing in Olympic Summer Games and World Championship tournaments were at the time only a dream.
But over the past decade, she has realized those dreams, and has been a huge part of the rise of Venezuela in international softball. Not ranked among the top eight teams in the world 10 years ago (only eight teams qualified for Olympic Games tournaments) the nation qualified for the 2008 Summer Olymp[ic Games in Beijing, China. And at the 2010 World Championship tournament, hosted by Venezuela, they placed fifth.
But there’s still more to accomplish, said the now 25-year-old Alicart.
“We’re preparing for the Pan-American Games (Oct. 14-30 in Mexico),” she said. “I just want to get my timing and rhythm playing against good teams like the US, Australia and Canada. And also have fun.”
And does having fun include hooking up with old friends?
“I’m trying,” she laughed. “I’m talking to people, and maybe we can do some shopping. Or just hang out.”